“Hospital Music was cathartic. This album is getting it off my chest,” declares solo rocker Matthew Good about the relationship between his last effort and his current offering, Vancouver (Universal).
To Good, both albums are incredibly personal, albeit on disparate levels. Where 2007’s Hospital Music was created as Good came to terms with a long-standing medical condition, Vancouver, which was released this week, is slightly more relaxed. It relays his experiences, sentiments and aspirations for the city he has grown with over two decades.
“When you live somewhere for so long, you see everything: the good and the bad,” he continues. “You can’t dispel one for the other, which is why even people who claim to hate a city still have fond memories in it. You have to focus on both of those emotions, and this album does just that.
“In this city alone, I’ve lived everywhere from nice neighbourhoods to the poorest one in Canada. I’ve watched Vancouver turn from an edgy scene with a great arts and music community to [the point] where those communities have been stifled. Some people call that progress, but I call it a cultural loss.”
Despite the city’s “loss,” Good’s commentary on the current state of Vancouver proves his creativity is at an all-time high. From the straightforward flow of Last Parade through Great Whales of the Sea — a song he crafted while tinkering with authentic whale sound bites — the album’s 10 tracks are a strong step forward from Good’s already solid body of work.
“I have a definite affinity for grandeur, especially orchestral arrangements. I’m a massive sucker for that,” he says with a smile. “The songwriting is progressive compared to the last record, depending on how you define that. You can go off the deep end and be experimental, but I focus on the emotive quality of songs. That’s where I find the progressive aspect of my work. You can listen to Hospital Music and it emotes a certain feeling, and I wanted this record to emote its own unique feeling.”
Good offers his own means of evaluating his distinct work, be it Vancouver’s slightly removed point of view or Hospital Music’s intimacy. But he’s careful to allow listeners to derive their own personal meanings from his compositions.
“I equate it to weather,” says Good. “Almost every song of my career feels like a weather condition. That’s the perfect backdrop for a song.
“For this album, well, it depends. Some songs are calm and still, quiet and contemplative, where others are a lot of wind and a looming rainstorm. There are grey days, hot days.
“Ultimately, though, it’s subjective as to how people view it. Sometimes it’s best for people to take it as what it is and apply it to their own lives.”